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Validate Azure resources from templates with continuous integration (CI)#

Azure Resource Manager (ARM) templates are a JSON-based file structure. ARM templates are typically not static, they include parameters, functions and conditions. Depending on the parameters provided to a template, resources may differ significantly.

Important resource properties that should be validated are often variables, parameters or deployed conditionally. Under these circumstances, to correctly validate resources in a template, parameters must be resolved.

The following scenario shows how to validate Azure resources from templates using a generic pipeline. The examples provided can be integrated into a continuous integration (CI) pipeline able to run PowerShell.

For integrating into Azure DevOps see Validate Azure resources from templates with Azure Pipelines.

This scenario covers the following:

Installing PSRule within a CI pipeline#

Typically, PSRule is not pre-installed on CI worker nodes and must be installed within the pipeline. PSRule PowerShell modules need to be installed prior to calling PSRule cmdlets.

If your CI pipeline runs on a persistent virtual machine that you control, consider pre-installing PSRule. The following examples focus on installing PSRule dynamically during execution of the pipeline. Which is suitable for cloud-based CI worker nodes.

To install PSRule within a CI pipeline, execute the Install-Module PowerShell cmdlet.

Depending on your environment, the CI worker process may not have administrative permissions. To install modules into the current context running the CI pipeline use -Scope CurrentUser. The PowerShell Gallery is not a trusted source by default. Use the -Force switch to suppress a prompt to install modules from PowerShell Gallery.

For example:

$Null = Install-Module -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -Scope CurrentUser -Force;

Installing PSRule.Rules.Azure also installs the base PSRule module and associated Azure dependencies. The PSRule.Rules.Azure module includes cmdlets and pre-built rules for validating Azure resources. Using the pre-built rules is completely optional.

In some cases, installing NuGet and PowerShellGet may be required to connect to the PowerShell Gallery. The NuGet package provider can be installed using the Install-PackageProvider PowerShell cmdlet.

$Null = Install-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -Scope CurrentUser -Force;

The example below includes both steps together with checks:

if ($Null -eq (Get-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)) {
    $Null = Install-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -Scope CurrentUser -Force;
}

if ($Null -eq (Get-InstalledModule -Name PowerShellGet -MinimumVersion 2.2.1 -ErrorAction Ignore)) {
    Install-Module PowerShellGet -MinimumVersion 2.2.1 -Scope CurrentUser -Force -AllowClobber;
}

if ($Null -eq (Get-InstalledModule -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)) {
    $Null = Install-Module -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -Scope CurrentUser -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -Force;
}

Add -AllowPrerelease to install pre-release versions. See the change log for the latest version.

Exporting rule data for analysis#

In PSRule, the Export-AzRuleTemplateData cmdlet resolves a template and returns a resultant set of resources. The resultant set of resources can then be validated.

No connectivity to Azure is required by default when calling Export-AzRuleTemplateData.

Export cmdlet parameters#

To run Export-AzRuleTemplateData two key parameters are required:

  • -TemplateFile - An absolute or relative path to the template JSON file.
  • -ParameterFile - An absolute or relative path to one or more parameter JSON files.

The -ParameterFile parameter is optional when all parameters defined in the template have defaultValue set.

Optionally the following parameters can be used:

  • -Name - The name of the deployment. If not specified a default name of export-<xxxxxxxx> will be used.
  • -OutputPath - An absolute or relative path where the resultant resources will be written to JSON. If not specified the current working path be used.
  • -ResourceGroup - The name of a resource group where the deployment is intended to be run. If not specified placeholder values will be used.
  • -Subscription - The name or subscription Id of a subscription where the deployment is intended to be run. If not specified placeholder values will be used.

See cmdlet help for a full list of parameters.

If -OutputPath is a directory or is not set, the output file will be automatically named resources-<name>.json.

For example:

Export-AzRuleTemplateData -TemplateFile .\template.json -ParameterFile .\parameters.json;

Multiple parameter files that map to the same template can be supplied in a single cmdlet call. Additional templates can be exported by calling Export-AzRuleTemplateData multiple times.

Use of placeholder values#

A number of functions that can be used within Azure templates retrieve information from Azure. Some examples include reference, subscription, resourceGroup, list*.

The default for Export-AzRuleTemplateData is to operate without requiring authenticated connectivity to Azure. As a result, functions that retrieve information from Azure use placeholders such as {{Subscription.SubscriptionId}}.

To provide a real value for subscription and resourceGroup use the -Subscription and -ResourceGroup parameters. When using -Subscription and -ResourceGroup the subscription and resource group must already exist. Additionally the context running the cmdlet must have at least read access (i.e. Reader).

It is currently not possible to provide a real value for reference and list*, only placeholders will be used.

Key Vault references in parameter files use placeholders instead of the real value to prevent accidental exposure of secrets.

Validating exported resources#

To validate exported resources use Invoke-PSRule, Assert-PSRule or Test-PSRuleTarget. In a CI pipeline, Assert-PSRule is recommended. Assert-PSRule outputs preformatted results ideal for use within a CI pipeline.

Use Assert-PSRule with the resolved resource output as an input using -InputPath.

In the following example, resources from .\resources.json are validated against pre-built rules:

Assert-PSRule -InputPath .\resources-export-*.json -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure;

Example output:

 -> vnet-001 : Microsoft.Network/virtualNetworks

    [PASS] Azure.Resource.UseTags
    [PASS] Azure.VirtualNetwork.UseNSGs
    [PASS] Azure.VirtualNetwork.SingleDNS
    [PASS] Azure.VirtualNetwork.LocalDNS

 -> vnet-001/subnet2 : Microsoft.Network/virtualNetworks/subnets

    [FAIL] Azure.Resource.UseTags

To process multiple input files a wildcard * can be used.

Assert-PSRule -InputPath .\out\*.json -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure;

Formatting output#

When executing a CI pipeline, feedback on any validation failures is important. The Assert-PSRule cmdlet provides easy to read formatted output instead of PowerShell objects.

Additionally, Assert-PSRule supports styling formatted output for Azure Pipelines and GitHub Actions. Use the -Style AzurePipelines or -Style GitHubActions parameter to style output.

For example:

Assert-PSRule -InputPath .\out\*.json -Style AzurePipelines -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure;

Failing the pipeline#

When using PSRule within a CI pipeline, a failed rule should stop the pipeline. When using Assert-PSRule if any rules fail, an error will be generated.

Assert-PSRule : One or more rules reported failure.
At line:1 char:1
+ Assert-PSRule -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure -InputPath .\out\tests\Resou ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo          : InvalidData: (:) [Assert-PSRule], FailPipelineException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : PSRule.Fail,Assert-PSRule

A single PowerShell error is typically enough to stop a CI pipeline. If you are using a different configuration additionally -ErrorAction Stop can be used.

For example:

Assert-PSRule -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure -InputPath .\out\*.json -ErrorAction Stop;

Generating NUnit output#

NUnit is a popular unit test framework for .NET. NUnit generates a test report format that is widely interpreted by CI systems. While PSRule does not use NUnit directly, it support outputting validation results in the NUnit3 format. Using a common format allows integration with any system that supports the NUnit3 for publishing test results.

To generate an NUnit report:

  • Use the -OutputFormat NUnit3 parameter.
  • Use the -OutputPath parameter to specify the path of the report file to write.
Assert-PSRule -OutputFormat NUnit3 -OutputPath .\reports\rule-report.xml -Module PSRule.Rules.Azure -InputPath .\out\*.json;

The output path will be created if it does not exist.

Complete example#

Putting each of these steps together.

Install dependencies#

# Install dependencies for connecting to PowerShell Gallery
if ($Null -eq (Get-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -ErrorAction Ignore)) {
    Install-PackageProvider -Name NuGet -Force -Scope CurrentUser;
}

if ($Null -eq (Get-InstalledModule -Name PowerShellGet -MinimumVersion 2.2.1 -ErrorAction Ignore)) {
    Install-Module PowerShellGet -MinimumVersion 2.2.1 -Scope CurrentUser -Force -AllowClobber;
}

Validate templates#

# Install PSRule.Rules.Azure module
if ($Null -eq (Get-InstalledModule -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)) {
    $Null = Install-Module -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -Scope CurrentUser -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -Force;
}

# Resolve resources
Export-AzRuleTemplateData -TemplateFile .\template.json -ParameterFile .\parameters.json -OutputPath out/;

# Validate resources
$assertParams = @{
    InputPath = 'out/*.json'
    Module = 'PSRule.Rules.Azure'
    Style = 'AzurePipelines'
    OutputFormat = 'NUnit3'
    OutputPath = 'reports/rule-report.xml'
}
Assert-PSRule @assertParams;

Additional options#

Using Invoke-Build#

Invoke-Build is a build automation cmdlet that can be installed from the PowerShell Gallery by installing the InvokeBuild module. Within Invoke-Build, each build process is broken into tasks.

The following example shows an example of using PSRule.Rules.Azure with InvokeBuild tasks.

# Synopsis: Install PSRule modules
task InstallPSRule {
    if ($Null -eq (Get-InstalledModule -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue)) {
        $Null = Install-Module -Name PSRule.Rules.Azure -Scope CurrentUser -MinimumVersion '0.12.1' -Force;
    }
}

# Synopsis: Run validation
task ValidateTemplate InstallPSRule, {
    # Resolve resources
    Export-AzRuleTemplateData -TemplateFile .\template.json -ParameterFile .\parameters.json -OutputPath out/;

    # Validate resources
    $assertParams = @{
        InputPath = 'out/*.json'
        Module = 'PSRule.Rules.Azure'
        Style = 'AzurePipelines'
        OutputFormat = 'NUnit3'
        OutputPath = 'reports/rule-report.xml'
    }
    Assert-PSRule @assertParams;
}

# Synopsis: Run all build tasks
task Build ValidateTemplate
Invoke-Build Build;

Calling from Pester#

Pester is a unit test framework for PowerShell that can be installed from the PowerShell Gallery.

Typically, Pester unit tests are built for a particular pipeline. PSRule can complement Pester unit tests by providing dynamic and sharable rules that are easy to reuse. By using -If or -Type pre-conditions, rules can dynamically provide validation for a range of use cases.

When calling PSRule from Pester use Invoke-PSRule instead of Assert-PSRule. Invoke-PSRule returns validation result objects that can be tested by Pester Should conditions.

Additionally, the Logging.RuleFail option can be included to generate an error message for each failing rule.

For example:

Describe 'Azure' {
    Context 'Resource templates' {
        It 'Use content rules' {
            Export-AzRuleTemplateData -TemplateFile .\template.json -ParameterFile .\parameters.json -OutputPath .\out\resources.json;

            # Validate resources
            $invokeParams = @{
                InputPath = 'out/*.json'
                Module = 'PSRule.Rules.Azure'
                OutputFormat = 'NUnit3'
                OutputPath = 'reports/rule-report.xml'
                Option = (New-PSRuleOption -LoggingRuleFail Error)
            }
            Invoke-PSRule @invokeParams -Outcome Fail,Error | Should -BeNullOrEmpty;
        }
    }
}

More information#


Last update: 2021-06-18